New State Law Gives Older Food at Grocery Stores Another Chance

Food pantries and assistance programs are expecting more food from grocery stores thanks to a new law that extends the life of food past its “sell by” date

NBC Universal, Inc.

A new California state law is expected to help put more meals on the tables of hungry San Diegans.

As of Jan. 1, grocery stores and food suppliers are required to donate food beyond its “sell by” date to food pantries and assistance programs.

“What this is going to do is create just a massive increase in supply,” said Wesley Burt, the Executive Director for +BOX, a nonprofit food assistance program headquartered in Carlsbad.

“While [the food] is past its use date and not expired, it’s still on the tail end of its lifecycle,” explained Burt. “So, we need to be able to turn that around pretty quickly.”

That’s where +BOX can help. The program delivered 20,000 boxes of food in 2021 to families that needed a meal.

“San Diego’s a wonderful place, but there are people in need and that’s unfortunate,” added Burt.

He said they regularly get supplies from their partners at Feeding San Diego and the San Diego Food Bank, but this new law will give them even more.

“Things like this state law just encourage more people to understand where their food is going,” said Greg McGuire, +BOX’s Director of Strategic Partnerships.

McGuire said it’s the latest law that helps keep food waste out of landfills where it could become a major contributor to dangerous greenhouse gases.

“We have a huge food waste problem in this country and hopefully this state law will help course-correct,” said McGuire.

The new law coincides with another new California law requiring residents to throw their food waste in their green bin with other organics to be composted. Several San Diego County municipalities already started their program. Cities like San Diego and Chula Vista have delayed the starts of their composting programs.

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